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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's A New Year and It's. On. You.

Happy New Year, folks!! We're at the dawn of a new decade and it seems to me like there's no better time than RIGHT NOW to spend time on one of my favorite topics to muse (read: rant) about: personal accountability. I spend a fair amount of time talking with people both personally and professionally on this subject. But, for some reason? I've yet to blog on it. Correcting that now. ;)

My former boss and CEO of Kaye/Bassman, Jeff Kaye, said something to me years ago during my interview that's stuck with me: "We either believe we are the uncontested author of our destiny and we act on it... or, through our inaction we show we don't." (1) I've applied this in many different areas & ways in my life over the years -but what I mainly took from it is that I have a much larger 'control' over my life than what I often want to give myself credit for. And so do you. If something's off in my life, be it personal or professional, I'm really the first person I should be looking to for change.

As a recruiter, one of the occupational hazards I have is hearing people just whine about how awful their jobs are; usually for one of the following reasons:

1. Workload is Off-Whack
2. No discernable career path (lack of promotions)
3. No Work-Life Balance
4. Poor Treatment from Boss or Co-Workers
5. Not enough Money

There's always a good story that goes with it; and a 'good reason' for the discontent. But you know what I never hear? Anything that's been done to try to change it. Every once in awhile, someone will tell me about how they've vented to their boss or told off a coworker... but, nothing really beyond that. And then they'll go off and get a different job; and in a couple of years? They are back in the same spot... discontented. The only thing that changed was where their paycheck came from. And they're befuddled... I'm not. They're not taking any accountability for their part in creating their environment.

The first thing any of us should do when discontent with a situation in our lives is to gamefilm it and see how we got to where we are. What hand did we play in our current situation? 8 times out of 10? It's big. We'll take on too much in an effort to please; and then resent our bosses/companies for not being clairvoyant & seeing we've lost our personal lives. When what we should be doing is setting healthy boundaries regarding our workloads/hours, communicating those boundaries respectfully (2) and reasonably sticking to them. Your boss? Has a personal life, too - he/she gets it... but, is tasked with getting more done than they often have the resources for and so will lay it on as much as we'll let them.

Same thing goes for our personal relationships - if you're not being treated well? You get a free pass on that once.. maybe twice. After that? You've got to accept accountability to the situation because you ALLOW(ed) yourself to be treated that way by staying in the situation or not demanding change. If your partner is inconsiderate, don't just tell them "you're selfish" - that won't fix anything. And just treating them the way you want to be treated? Likely won't work either; a by-product of self-absorption is that they don't see what you're doing. Help them - it helps you, too! Create a gameplan for change by setting expectations and even scheduling events that cause them to focus on you. Yes, it takes the spontenaity out of it at first; but you're helping establish a habit and redrawing the circumstances you're in. After a couple of months? Your partner will either pick up on it on their own or you might find it's time to find a new partner. But, either way, you took accountability for the fact that you probably knew they were this way, to some degree, at the onset (3) and so had some hand in your relationship environment.

It's easier, and initially feels better, to think we're not responsible for our lots in life. That things 'just happen' the way they do - but, it's delusional thinking. We really have a lot of influence in our relationships & environments... and the fact that we can do things to 'author' the book of life that we want? Seems like something to be grateful for in this new year!

(1) Ok, this might be paraphrased - but it WAS 2004 when we had this conversation
(2) RESPECTFULLY is the key word here; you get no points if you yell at your boss about how he/she is sucking out your soul for the company store. It'll be a funny story to tell at the bar; but will likely land you in the unemployment line.
(3) There are always signs

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